PELLA, Iowa - The Simpson women's basketball team makes the short journey to Pella to face rival Central on Wednesday night from Kuyper Gymnasium, looking to bounce back from a loss to Luther on Saturday as the Storm complete the first-half of the conference slate.
Matchup: Simpson (10-7, 3-3), Central (4-13, 1-5)
Date: Wednesday, January 27
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Kuyper Gymnasium - Pella, Iowa
Last Time Out
Simpson's offense went cold in the second half of its 70-52 loss to Iowa Conference-leading Luther on Saturday. The Storm trailed just 34-28 at the half but shot only 7 of 27 in the second half as the Norse ran away with it late. Simpson was outrebounded 48-33 while surrendering 24 points off turnovers. Despite the loss, Noreen Morrow posted yet another double-digit scoring performance, scoring 15 points to go with seven rebounds, both of which were team-highs for the Storm.
A look at Central
The Dutch come into Wednesday's game in a tie for last place in the Iowa Conference with the Dubuque Spartans, both of which have only one win in the IIAC. After winning their first game this year, Central went 2-8 leading up into conference play. The Dutch knocked off Dubuque 74-63 in Pella on Jan. 13 to earn their lone win in conference thus far. Central is coming off of a 99-45 road loss at Buena Vista on Saturday. Despite having the worst scoring offense in the league at 55.6 ppg, Central has one of the most effective scorers and rebounders in the conference in 5-9 freshman forward Claire Marburger. The Perry, Iowa native averages 16.0 ppg and 8.7 rpg while also blocking 37 shots already this season. Marburger was named IIAC Player of the Week for the week ending on Nov. 17 and has already posted six double-double games. Sophomore point guard Emily Dine also joined Marburger as IIAC Player of the Week after dropping 31 points on seven 3s in Central's win over Dubuque.
The all-time series
Wednesday marks the 84th meeting in a series that dates back to 1974-75. Simpson leads the series 53-30 and has won the last 28 in the series. Simpson has won those games by an average of 26 points. Central's last win came on Feb. 2, 2002.
TOP 5 STORM STORYLINES
1. Feed the post
Simpson's three predominant scorers in the post, Noreen Morrow, Katie Ahrenholtz and Britney Boland all factor in heavily in Simpson's wins. Morrow averages 5.5 more ppg in wins, Ahrenholtz 3.1 ppg and Boland 2.7 for an average of +10.9 ppg of production from the trio in Simpson's 10 wins. Essentially, the play in the post has factored much more heavily than at the guard position in wins this year. Simpson's three-main scoring guards in Maddie Bosworth, Mackenzie Haupt and Morgan Mauro combine to average -0.1 more points per game in Simpson's wins this year.
2. Defensive stalwarts
Simpson's defense has been solid this season, allowing 63.1 ppg, good for third in the conference. Additionally, the Storm have only allowed a team to score over 80 points once this season and have kept teams to 60 points or fewer eight different times. This performance can be partially chalked up to the fact that Simpson is the only team in the league to have three players in the top ten in both blocks and steals. Mackenzie Haupt, Whitney Van Wyk and Maddie Bosworth are all in the top five in steals with at least 32. Van Wyk, Annie Gullickson and Boland are eight, nine and 10 in the league in blocked shots. Van Wyk and Gullickson have recorded 0.9 bpg.
3. Fresh legs
While Simpson has had the same starting five in 16 of the team's 17 games, head coach Brian Niemuth has made sure these five have gotten plenty of rest. Whitney Van Wyk leads the team with 28.8 mpg although no Simpson player places in the top 10 in the league in minutes per game. Ten players average at least 12 mpg and Simpson's typical starting five (Haupt, Bosworth, Morrow, Boland and Van Wyk) average 25.1 mpg, a manageable amount considering the league-high is 34.7 mpg, set by Abbey Meyer of Dubuque.
4. She can do it all
While she doesn't get a lot of attention as an offensive force, being seventh on the team in scoring at 4.9 ppg, senior Whitney Van Wyk provides a glue to this team with her versatility. Van Wyk leads the Storm in minutes played (28.8 mpg), assist to turnover ratio (2.7), is tied for first in blocks (0.9 bpg), third in defensive rebounds (3.2 drpg) and is second in steals per game (2.0 spg). Van Wyk has played in 91 career games and has started 43 straight games dating back to the 2013-14 season.
5. Shooting for a record
Senior guard Morgan Mauro continues her ascent up Simpson's all-time 3-point field goal list. After going 3 of 6 from deep on Saturday, Mauro has 153 career 3s, tying Tiffany Whitsell (1999-2003) for third all-time at Simpson. Ninety-four percent of Mauro's field goal attempts have been 3-point field goals this year, and her 30 3s are the most on the team and account for 28 percent of Simpson's 3s. Amy Hamilton (2007-11) holds Simpson's career record with 241 3s, followed by Carlie Beals (2004-008) with 236.
Brian Niemuth is in his 29th season as Simpson's head coach, where he is 545-225. He has won 11 IIAC Championships and has led his team to the NCAA Tournament 11 times. The seven-time IIAC Coach of the Year entered the season ranked 10th among active Division III coaches in wins. He is the winningest coach in IIAC history with 330 victories.
Simpson stays on the road on Saturday, Jan. 30 when it faces Dubuque for the second time this season. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. from the Stoltz Sports Center in Dubuque.